Consent is an essential part of a healthy relationship, as it’s crucial to respect the other person’s wishes. It’s important to know how to recognise consent because you need to have it for everything sexual that you do together.
You need to take responsibility for seeking consent from your partner every time, as people can change their mind at any point, even during sex. Just because someone consented to something once, it still means you have to ask again as they could feel differently from last time. Also, consent to one sort of sexual activity does not mean consent to everything.
Talk to the other person and check if they’re happy.
Good communication is a really important part of a healthy relationship. You can read more about sex and relationships on the Rise Above site here (link opens in a new tab).
They may tell you verbally that they do or do not consent to sex or they may show you through their body language. Someone cannot assume another person is giving consent. Remember they don’t have to actually say the word ‘no’ and that they can communicate through body language just as much as speech.
If your partner seems tense, they may be nervous or frightened and are probably trying to hide how they feel.
They may stop kissing you, or not want to be touched or hugged.
These could be signs of non-consent, so don’t ignore them – check with the other person.
Being pressured to give consent
If somebody agrees to sexual activity because they’ve been pestered, intimidated, or faced physical or emotional threats, they have not given consent. Consent needs to be given freely.
Signs of being pressured to give consent can include:
Someone has to have capacity to give consent – what does this mean?
People have to be able to freely give their consent. So if someone’s unconscious, drunk or asleep, they cannot freely give consent. Someone may have consented to sex whilst awake, but if they then pass out or fall asleep before you’re finished, you have to stop. You can’t assume they want to carry on.